An unfortunate move
EXCLUSION of the life sketch of Moulana Abdul Hamid Khan Bhashani from the new textbooks of class V and VIII looks to be part of an attempt by the incumbents to give currency to a monolithic rendition of Bangladesh’s history, to the next generation. The chairperson of the National Curriculum and Textbook Board, according to a report front-paged in New Age on Monday, attributed the exclusion of the two-page biography of Bhashani, which had been in the class V and VIII textbooks for decades, from the new textbooks to an attempt to ‘avoid repetition’ since ‘text on Bhasani’s contribution to the country in brief’ has been included ‘in textbooks of class VII and IX’. Such a rationale would have seemed acceptable had there not been dedicated spaces for the biography of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, in some textbooks where his contribution to the independence of Bangladesh has been repeatedly mentioned.
A genuine leader of the oppressed people, Bhashani led a life dedicated to the economic, political and cultural emancipation of the people in general and peasants and industrial workers in particular. Most importantly, the uncompromising manner in which he waged struggle, from his early life to his death, against British colonialism, Pakistani neo-colonialism and the autocratic regimes in independent Bangladesh has few parallels in the nation’s history. In sum, he was, is and will be a great source of inspiration for the people still struggling for democratic rights and against the plunder of national resources by vested interests — national and international. Suffice it to say, when it comes to infusing values into schoolchildren, which, the NCTB chair says, is one of the key intents of the new curriculum, Bhasani’s biography carries immense significance.
The incumbents need to realise that the history we are proud of stands on the sacrifices and contributions made by many great individuals, of course, at varying degrees, instead of a single person. Without recognising their historical role, any attempt to consolidate national unity and ensure national progress may prove futile. The incumbents need to thus refrain from any action that essentially distorts the history by seeking to make it all about one single individual.
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